GBO NEWS: Columbia’s Age Boom Journalism Fellowships Names 36 Reporters; Kristof on US Health Scandal; Care Still Unaffordable for Seniors with Employer Coverage; Stealth Mental Care Crisis; Skepticism on Kaiser Permanente’s National Expansion; Japanese Artist Hokusai on Positive Aging; & MORE


E-News of the Journalists Network on Generations.  

August 28, 2023 — Volume 30, Number 9

EDITOR’S NOTEGBONews, e-news of the Journalists Network on Generations (JNG), publishes alerts for journalists, producers and authors covering generational issues. If you have difficulty getting to the full issue of GBONews with the links provided below, simply go to to read the latest or past editions. Send your news of important stories or books (by you and others), fellowships, awards or pertinent kvetches to GBO News Editor Paul Kleyman. []. To subscribe to at no charge, simply sending a request to Paul with your name, address, phone number and editorial affiliation or note that you freelance. For each issue, you’ll receive the table of contents in an e-mail, so just click through to the full issue at GBONews does not provide its list to other entities. NOTE ALSO: Some news links below hit paywalls and are inaccessible without subscriptions, although a number of those do allow free access to the first few stories.

In This IssueYour Front Runner on Old News.

1. EYES ON THE PRIZE: 1. EYES ON THE PRIZE: *** Columbia U’s Age Boom Journalism Fellowships Names 36 Reporters.

2. GOOD SOURCES: *** “Can Older Adults with Employer Coverage Afford Their Health Care?”  the latest Biennial Health Insurance Survey, 2022” from the Commonwealth Fund. 


*** “How Do We Fix the Scandal That Is American Health Care?” by Nicholas KristofNew York Times

*** “Call It ‘Stealth Mental Health’ — Some Care for Elders Helps More Without the Label,” by Ashley Milne-Tyte,  NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday”;

 *** “Promising Better, Cheaper Care, Kaiser Permanente’s National Expansion Faces Wide Skepticism,” by Harris Meyer, California Healthline

*** “Aging in Puerto Rico is a struggle for families fragmented by migration,” by Nicole Acevedo, NBC News

*** “High-Earning Retirement Savers Are Losing Some of Their 401(k) Tax Break,” by Anne Tergeson, Washington Post

4. WORDS FROM THE WISE: From Harry “Rick” Moody’s “Human Values in Aging,” great 19th century Japanese artist, Hokusai, on the clear view from very old age.


*** Columbia U’s Age Boom Journalism Fellowships Taps 36: The Columbia University’s  Aging Center named 36 journalists from the Wall Street Journal to public radio’s Marketplace for its 2023 Age Boom Academy fellowships. The online training program, run jointly by Columbia’s Journalism School and its Mailman School of Public Health, will focus this year on the theme, “America’s Housing Crisis and Our Longer Lives,” with a webinar series to run in October. 

Besides a rich roster of experts in aging slated to speak, the program will also include such journalists as New York Times “New Old Age” columnist Paula Span; veteran generations beat writer/editor (Fortune, PBS Next Avenue) Richard EisenbergMarketplace columnist and author, Chris Farrell; and Yahoo! News columnist and author, Kerry Hannon.

Selected for the 2023 Age Boom Academy areSally Abrahms, Massachusetts, Freelancer for PBS Next Avenue and others; Aisha Adkins, Georgia, Freelancer, American Society on Aging’s Generations JournalAmendo, and others; Morgan Baskin, West Virginia, Reporter, Housing and Development, WAMU 88.5 and the DCistIan Bradley, Reporter, Nashville Business JournalKhristopher Brooks, New York, Reporter, CBS NewsAnnemarie Cuccia, Virginia, Accountability Reporter, Street Sense Media; Veronica Dagher, New York, Reporter, Wall Street JournalJonathan Epstein, New York, Staff Reporter, Buffalo News;  Stacey Freed, New York, Freelancer,, Professional Builder magazine; Cynthia Greenlee, North Carolina, Deputy Editor-special projects, The Guardian USHeidi Groover, Washington, DC, Staff Reporter, The Seattle TimesJessica Hall, Maine, Reporter, MarketWatch.

Also chosen: Lisa Halverstadt, Senior Investigative Reporter, Voice of San DiegoLillian Hernández Caraballo, Florida, Beat Reporter, WMFE 90.7; Tony Hicks, California, Reporter/Editor, Bay City NewsDebra Kamin, Reporter,New York TimesLizzie Kane, Business Reporter, Chicago TribuneLorie Konish; New York, Reporter,; Brooke Kushwaha, Massachusetts, Reporter, The Vineyard GazetteBailey Loosemore, Kentucky, Engagement Reporter, Courier JournalD. Kevin McNeir, Senior Writer/Columnist , New Jersey Urban NewsAlexa Mikhail, New York, Health & Wellness Reporter, Fortune Magazine:; Ashley Milne-Tyte, New York, Freelancer, Marketplace, NPR News, Let’s Find Common Ground Podcast; Megan Myscofski, New Mexico, Reporter, KUNM (NPR). 

And, Natalie Orenstein, California, Housing and Homelessness Reporter, OaklandsideNushrat Rahman, Michigan,Reporter, Detroit Free PressCaitlin Reilly, Washington, DC, Financial Services Reporter, CQ Roll CallCharlene Rhinehart, Publisher, Chicago SouthsiderHelen Rummel, Pulliam Fellow, Arizona Republic; Sandra  Sadek, Growth Reporter, Fort Worth Report; Gregory Schmidt, Senior Staff Editor, New York TimesAnita Snow, Arizona, Staff Writer, Associated PressAnnmarie Timmins, Senior Reporter, New Hampshire Bulletin; Tatyana  Turner, New York, NYCHA Reporter, City LimitsAbby Vesoulis, Washington, DC, National Politics Reporter, Mother JonesTess Vrbin, Reporter, Arkansas Advocate.


*** Can Older Adults with Employer Coverage Afford Their Health Care?” by Lauren A. Haynes and Sara R. Collins is the latest Biennial Health Insurance Survey, 2022” from the respected health policy research foundation, the Commonwealth FundKey Findings: Among older adults with employer coverage:

*Nearly half of low-income older adults, and more than one-third of those with moderate income, said it was very or somewhat difficult to afford their premiums.

*Fifty-four percent of those with low income and nearly one-third with moderate income were underinsured, meaning that they had high out-of-pocket costs and/or deductibles relative to their income.

*Nearly half of those with low income reported skipping or delaying needed care because of cost.

*Difficulties paying medical bills and paying off medical debt loads affected 44 percent of older adults with low income and two of five of those with moderate income.

*Sixty-three percent of those who struggled with medical bills and debt were not confident they have enough money to retire — more than double the rate for older adults without problems paying their medical bills.


Note: As you’re likely aware, you may hit paywalls for some of those that follow.

*** “How Do We Fix the Scandal That Is American Health Care?” by Nicholas Kristof with photos by Dawn Bottoms, New York Times (Aug. 20, 2023, third in “How America Heals” series):

The Lede: “It’s not just that life expectancy in Mississippi (71.9) now appears to be a hair shorter than in Bangladesh (72.4). Nor that an infant is some 70 percent more likely to die in the United States than in other wealthy countries. Nor even that for the first time in probably a century, the likelihood that an American child will live to the age of 20 has dropped. All that is tragic and infuriating, but to me the most heart-rending symbol of America’s failure in health care is the avoidable amputations that result from poorly managed diabetes.”

Huh!: “I’ll be blunt: America’s dismal health care outcomes are a disgrace. They shame us. Partly because of diabetes and other preventable conditions, Americans suffer unnecessarily and often die young. It is unconscionable that newborns in IndiaRwanda and Venezuela have a longer life expectancy than Native American newborns (65) in the United States. And Native American males have a life expectancy of just 61.5 years — shorter than the overall life expectancy in Haiti.”“Where People Live Longer Than Americans”: Scroll down to the stunning chart with this title showing where each US state falls on the global longevity map against a wide selection of countries. The greatest US longevity: Hawaii, which is well below Japan, Australia and several others including Canada. At the bottom, as noted above, Mississippi. What country does your state most closely compare to?

*** I’ve Reported on Dementia for Years, and One Image of a Prisoner Keeps Haunting Me,” by Katie EngelhartNew York Times (Aug. 11, 2023): The Nutshell: “In recent years, I have reported on many aspects of life with dementia. One image has especially haunted me: that of a prisoner who, as a result of cognitive impairment, no longer remembers his crimes — but is still being punished for them.”

The Stats: “We don’t know exactly how many people in American prisons have dementia because nobody is counting. By some estimates, there are already thousands, most of them languishing in the general inmate population. Older adults represent one of the fastest-growing demographic groups within American correctional facilities. Between 1999 and 2016, the number of prisoners over 55 increased by 280 percent, according to a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts; over the same period, the number of incarcerated younger people grew by just 3 percent.”

Aging Faster: “This trend is largely attributed to ‘tough on crime’ reforms in the 1980s and 1990s, which lengthened sentences and ensured that many more people would grow old and frail and then die behind prison walls. Incarcerated life is also thought to accelerate the aging process, such that many longtime prisoners appear more than a decade older than their chronological ages — and are considered ‘elderly’ at 50 or 55.”

*** “Call It ‘Stealth Mental Health’ — Some Care for Elders Helps More Without the Label,” by Ashley Milne-Tyte,  NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday” (Aug. 12, 2023, with written story, linked here, posted Aug. 14):  The Dek: Host Scott Simon – “The pandemic brought a lot of attention to the mental health of young people. But many older people also struggle with loneliness, anxiety and substance abuse. And many don’t get the care they need, as Ashley Milne-Tyte reports.”

The Lede: Ashley Milne-Tyte – “There are lots of reasons why older adults have less access to mental health care. Regina Koepp is a clinical psychologist based in Vermont and the founder of the Center for Mental Health and Aging. ‘One reason is that professionals are undertrained to treat the mental health needs of older adults. Many professionals feel quite incompetent and will say that they just don’t treat older adults.’” 

Not Covered: “Then there’s cost. Medicare doesn’t reimburse all types of mental health provider, such as counselors, and many providers don’t work with insurers. And, Koepp says, stereotypes about aging can also interfere with care. ‘There’s an idea that depression is normal with aging or anxiety is normal with aging, when, in fact, these conditions are not normal with aging’ . . . [But] the words mental health still carry plenty of stigma for older generations.”

A Solution: “Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez is commissioner for the New York City Department for the Aging. . . She says the city is bringing mental health services to older people, where many of them are in senior centers, even if the services aren’t always labeled that way. . . Social worker Tanzila Uddin is holding the second of two workshops on journaling and gratitude at this senior center in Queens. . . Workshops like this are a way of getting older people to open up on everything from their physical health to depression to problems with bossy adult children. . . In the last few years, the Department for the Aging has expanded this model of care to 88 senior centers across New York City. It’s free to seniors.”

Cost, Access Hurdles: “Susan Ford, 76,  lives in San Francisco. Most of her income comes from Social Security. . . She’s getting a reduced rate, working with a therapist in training, a master’s degree student at a local institute. She says working through the challenges of this phase of her life has been hugely helpful. Ford says every older person deserves the same opportunity. ‘If we don’t have care that will help us, society is asking us not to be as alive as we can be.’ She says human beings never stop growing whatever their age.”

*** “Promising Better, Cheaper Care, Kaiser Permanente’s National Expansion Faces Wide Skepticism,” by Harris Meyer, California Healthline (Aug. 10, 2023): 

The Lede: “As regulators review Kaiser Permanente’s proposed acquisition of a respected health system based in Pennsylvania, health care experts are still puzzling over how the surprise deal, announced in April, could fulfill the managed care giant’s promise of improving care and reducing costs for patients, including in its home state of California.”

Market Share: “KP said it would acquire Danville, Pennsylvania-based Geisinger — which has 10 hospitals, 1,700 employed physicians, and a 600,000-member health plan in three states — as the first step in the creation of a new national health care organization called Risant Health. Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente said it expects to invest $5 billion in Risant over the next five years, and to add as many as six more nonprofit health systems during that period.  Industry experts believe KP’s aim is to build a big enough presence across the country to effectively compete with players like Amazon, Aetna CVS Health, Walmart Health, and UnitedHealth Group in providing health care for large corporate customers.”

And Quality Care?: “Critics of the deal, citing KP’s failed expansion moves in the 1980s and 1990s, also worry that building Risant Health could distract KP executives from cost-control and quality improvement efforts in their home state and draw down the organization’s financial reserves, potentially leading to premium hikes.”

*** “Aging in Puerto Rico is a struggle for families fragmented by migration,” by Nicole Acevedo, NBC News(June 3, 2023): The Nutshell: “Puerto Rico is aging faster than most places on earth. Exacerbating the pattern is the exodus of more than 700,000 working-age Puerto Ricans — aged 20 to 64 — in the last 15 years, according to Amílcar Matos-Moreno, a post-doctoral researcher at Pennsylvania State University’s Population Research Institute.The U.S. territory is the first place, according to Matos-Moreno, that is experiencing such rapid aging of its population because of recent migration.”

What Changed: “Older adults who would traditionally rely on multigenerational family networks now find themselves alone with fewer or no close relatives and more dependent on caregivers and social service institutions. The biggest challenge is determining who navigates and coordinates essential services for aging Puerto Ricans when they can’t advocate for themselves. Mayra Ortiz Tapia, a clinical gerontologist, believes that ‘95% of families in Puerto Rico are dealing with this’ right now.”

A Stat: “Close to 741,000 Puerto Ricans are 65 or older, according to U.S. census data. That’s roughly a quarter (22.7%) of the island’s total population, making its share of older adults the 10th highest in the world, according to Matos-Moreno.” 

*** “High-Earning Retirement Savers Are Losing Some of Their 401(k) Tax Break,” by Anne Tergeson, Washington Post (July 17, 2023): 

The Nut of It: “Millions of high-earning Americans are slated to lose a popular tax deduction starting next year. Savers ages 50 and older can make catch-up contributions in their 401(k) accounts each year, with eligible workers allowed to put an extra $7,500 into their accounts, for a total of $30,000, this year.”

But: “Starting next year, those catch-up funds will be funneled only into after-tax Roth accounts for those who earned more than $145,000 the previous year. The change is part of a set of new rules Congress passed in December. In 2022, 16% of eligible participants took advantage of catch-ups, according to Vanguard Group. This change means many workers will pay taxes on their catch-up money up front during high-earning years, rather than in retirement when they may be in a lower tax bracket. It stands to reshape how many Americans save for retirement and create financial and estate-planning strategies.


*** “Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence” is an exhibition of prints by the great Japanese artist, Hokusai (1760–1849), creator if the print series, “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji,” at the Seattle Art Museum, Oct. 19, 2023-Jan. 21, 2024. 

In his Human Values in Aging newsletter (August 2023), Harry “Rick” Moody, wrote, “Hokusai was the great Japanese exponent of positive aging. Indeed, he spent his whole life anticipating old age and he displayed monumental capacity to reinvent himself in later life. In old age his house burned down and destroyed all his work, but he persevered.  Contrary to custom, he trained his daughter to be his successor. And he never stopped creating.

“Hokusai once said, ‘Everything I have done before the age of 70 is not worth bothering with. At 75, I will have learned something of the pattern of nature, of animals, of plants, of trees, birds, fish and insects. When I am 80 you will see real progress. At 90 I shall have cut my way deeply into the mystery of life itself. At 100, I shall be a marvelous artist. At 110, everything I create; a dot, a line, will jump to life as never before. To all of you who are going to live as long as I do, I promise to keep my word. I am writing this in my old age. I used to call myself Hokusai, but today I sign myself ‘The Old Man Mad About Drawing.’ ” 

Human Values in Aging offers brief items of wisdom and activities in the realm of positive aging, plus a national calendar of related events. To request a subscription to the free monthly email newsletter, drop a note to

The Journalists Network on Generations (JNG), founded in 1993, publishes Generations Beat Online News ( JNG provides information and networking opportunities for journalists covering generational issues, but not those representing services, products or lobbying agendas. Copyright 2023 JNG. For more information contact GBO Editor Paul Kleyman. 

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